Former Knoxville County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was found guilty of five felony charges related to purchasing prescription drugs from a mistress whom he helped get out of various legal troubles, including a failed urine test. Federal prosecutors took Baumgartner's deeds very seriously. There is a war on drugs going on after all, you can't have a federal judge purchasing "controlled" substances. Only undercover cops can do that, sometimes while shaking down drug dealers. From local TV station WVLT:
"The facts of this case were highly publicized and clearly tarnished the image of the criminal justice system in the eyes of the public," U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said in a statement after the verdict. "This conviction demonstrates that those in public office who violate the law and abuse the public trust will be held accountable for their actions."
So how long did the judge get for flouting the laws he sent other people to prison for? Back to WVLT:
Baumgartner faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count when he is sentenced March 27, but sentencing guidelines usually set lighter punishment for first-time offenders.
That came immediately after the very serious U.S. attorney brought up the very serious idea of scapegoating a bad apple to improve the image of a rotten fruit. The ease with which Baumgartner was able to purchase prescription drugs had little to do with his being a judge, and everything to do with how easy it is to buy all kinds of drugs. There's a lot of money spent enforcing drug laws, so those doing the spending to enforce them have to keep the appearance, against all interpretations of reality, of succeeding. More drug violence in Mexico? Drug war's working. More people in prison? Drug war's working. Apparently, what the system can't abide is judges getting high.